Party or Bonus: Record Holiday Bonuses & Gifts; $25k for Holiday Parties

With the holidays around the corner, buoyed by a strong economy, some 49% of employers will give employees holiday gift items or cash awards and bonuses this year, according to a new survey conducted by BNA for Kronos. 

This represents a significant increase from the 40% in 2005 and is the highest figure reported in the survey's 25-year history. 

According to Constant Contact's 2nd Annual 2006 Small Business Holiday Outlook  survey, nearly half (47%) of U.S. small businesses are planning a holiday party for their business, store, or office in 2006. In addition, 39% of small business owners will reward employees with holiday bonuses, up 2% from 2005.

BNA Survey highlights include:

  • Paid time off at Christmas and New Year's grows shorter, regardless of the calendar. This year, with Christmas and New Year's falling on Mondays, fewer employers are giving workers three or more paid holidays (43 percent) than in comparable years— 2000 (49 percent), 1995 (47 percent), and 1989 (60 percent)—when these holidays also fell on Mondays. 
  •  Manufacturing establishments are among those most generous in granting paid holiday leave. More than eight in 10 manufacturing firms (82 percent) will provide at least three paid holidays during the Christmas and New Year's season, far exceeding figures reported by nonmanufacturing/services organizations (33 percent) and nonbusiness establishments (28 percent).
  • Most organizations that sponsor company-wide events will pick up the full tab. Fully 83 percent of employers sponsoring holiday parties in 2006 will pay the full cost of the event, the same as reported in 2005 (83 percent). Median spending on company-wide parties has rebounded in 2006 ($7,000) after a dip in 2005 ($5,000). This translates to median party spending of $36 per employee, up slightly from the 2005 figure ($35 per employee).
  • This year, large companies will spend a median of $25,000 on company-wide parties, while smaller ones will spend a median of $5,700.
  • 74% of the companies that plan to serve alcohol at their parties say they will ask bartenders to monitor consumption, 45% will limit the time during which alcohol is served, 41% will offer taxis home for the inebriated and 32% are even arranging for hotel discounts for those would prefer to stay overnight.
  • Fewer organizations will participate in charitable activities this holiday season. This holiday season, 66 percent of surveyed employers plan to take part in one or more charitable activities—toy, food, or clothing collections, corporate monetary donations, volunteering, and others. This figure is down from 2005 (72 percent), but in line with results from 2004 (69 percent).

Survey data were collected from Oct. 3 through Nov. 2, 2006 using a Web-based questionnaire. A total of 214 employers represented by human resource executives participated. Of these, 24 percent were manufacturing firms, 38 percent were nonmanufacturing companies, and 38 percent were nonbusiness entities, such as government employers, hospitals, educational institutions, and other nonprofits. Seventy-eight percent of the participating organizations employ fewer than 1,000 workers, while 22 percent have workforces of 1,000 or more employees. Nonunion establishments make up 80 percent of the survey sample, while the remaining 20 percent employ at least some union-represented workers.

A video presentation of the survey results and the full report can be accessed from: 

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